When Austin introduced the new A40 range in September 1947, it replaced three pre-war models – the Eight, Ten and Twelve – with one new car. The A40 was an up-to-date design and one of the first Austin cars with independent front suspension. The overhead valve engine was also an all-new design and became the ancestor of the British Motor Corporation’s B-series engine.
Originally there were two A40 saloon models available: the two-door Dorset and the four-door Devon. The Dorset was mainly sold for export to the USA and Canada and was discontinued in 1949 after a short production run of just under 16,000 cars. The Devon, however, was in production until 1952 with a total of 273,958 made. For a time, the output exceeded that of any other European car.
This sectioned display chassis was prepared by Austin apprentices at the Longbridge factory and has recently been restored by the Museum’s restoration volunteers. The chassis has a number of interesting early features, such as the floor gearchange and Girling hydro-mechanical brakes on the rear wheels, which were replaced with a column gearchange and fully hydraulic brakes in later cars. Some other parts that were originally chromed by the apprentices, have now been painted red to highlight some of the technical features of early A40s.